What Does an "Organic" Label Mean?

What Does an "Organic" Label Mean?

Once upon a time, buying an apple was easy. It didn’t require much thought beyond, “I’m hungry. I’d like to buy an apple. Here’s one! It looks good – no bumps or mushy brown spots.” Money was exchanged for the sweet, crunchy, nutritious prize, and we went about our day with full, grateful tummies.

Yet, thanks to generations of pesticides, bioengineering and synthetics, a food transaction today comes with significantly more food for thought, and carries with it the possibility for considerably more confusion as to what is “conventional” and what is “organic.”

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Flu Fighters!

Flu Fighters!

In case you haven’t noticed - winter is here!

We could be fans of cold temperatures, or prefer the heat of summer - but this frigid season is fully underway whether we prefer it or not!  While it has its share of unique and fun, calorie-burning activities (sledding, skiing, snowboarding; and, in the case of New Yorkers, simply traversing the sidewalks after a snowstorm), winter also tends to come accompanied by a familiar foe: influenza, or, the flu.  

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Cuckoo for Coconut Oil?

Cuckoo for Coconut Oil?

Burning Question:

Where does coconut oil fit in the big Fat Revolution?

Ayurvedic medicine scripts, penned thousands of years ago, have described the health benefits of coconut oil. The coconut tree is commonly referred to as coconut palm tree by Filipinos, and is predominantly cultivated in India, the Philippines, Indonesia and other Southeast Asian regions. Its large plant – based fat content made it an excellent energy source for use in folk medicine leading to the popular name ‘tree of life.' Coconut oil is one component of this multipurpose crop that seems to have captured some attention lately.

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A Hoppin' New Year!

A Hoppin' New Year!

Celebrations abound across the globe during the holidays, and with them a smorgasbord of food. New Year’s is no different.  Folks all across the globe enjoy ringing in the New Year with foods that carry not only symbolic value for those who partake, but can possess great nutritional value as well! 

Here in the United States, one of the most popular New Years Day dishes contains an abundance of protein, grains, greens and vegetables!  You might have heard of it: “Hoppin’ Johns!”

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Child Nutrition Reauthorization: Keeping Good Nutrition GOOD

Child Nutrition Reauthorization: Keeping Good Nutrition GOOD

The #ThanksMichelleObama hashtag made famous by schoolchildren all over social media may have been heavier on the sarcasm than the sincerity, but many of us at Red Rabbit have been in support of the higher nutritional standards for school food, and our meals have managed to stay tasty even while adhering to the higher standards - so it IS possible!

With 23% of New York City children from food-insecure households depending upon school lunches to provide them with at least one nutritious meal each day, the need for strong food standards is less politics, and more dietetics. Why, then, do our food assistance programs continue to find themselves held hostage throughout the legislative process? Shouldn’t the health of our children and the strength of our families be more important than partisan squabbles across the aisles of Congress? What is in store for school food and Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR) in 2015?

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A Happy, Healthy Holiday!

A Happy, Healthy Holiday!

The holiday season is a flurry of activity, celebration and family fun.  This is the perfect time of year to gather with our loved ones, enjoy delicious meals and reflect on the year gone by.  It is easy to become stressed during the holidays, but never fear!  There are lots of creative ways to keep your family active and engaged during the winter and enjoy the holiday season!

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Breaking the Protein Myths

Breaking the Protein Myths

Off of the heels of popular diets such as Atkins and South Beach, Americans are as enamored with the little groups of nitrogen containing building blocks as they have ever been.  And why not?  Protein is used for creation and structure of every cell in our bodies and its enzymatic reaction allows for many essential chemical processes to occur.  Protein antibodies are also one defense that keeps us free from illness.  Even the word itself derives from the Greek word protos, meaning first, or of primary importance.  In a recent International Food Information Council (IFIC) survey, 48% of respondents stated that they are currently trying to eat more protein.  Reasons given vary from perceived increased satiety to beliefs that it will aid in weight loss.

There is no doubt that eating enough protein is paramount to good health.  But what is enough protein? What do you hear people saying about protein?  With so many voices chiming in on the great protein debate, let’s take a closer look at some myths and misconceptions!

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Navigating the Take-Out Menu

Navigating the Take-Out Menu

We all have days when we just don’t have the energy (or the time) to prepare a homemade meal for the family. Luckily, navigating takeout food options doesn't mean we have to sacrifice either our taste buds or our health. There are plenty of healthy and satisfying options from our favorite to-go spots. As a general rule, it’s best to stay away from deep fried, sauce-heavy foods from any cuisine. Sticking to vegetables, brown rice, plant-based proteins like beans and edamame, and broth-based soups ensures a healthy treat for the whole family. Remember: portion sizes tend to be large when ordering out, so share one entree between two people, or save half for lunch! Below, we've outlined some of our favorite healthy takeout options by cuisine.

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Food of the Month: Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia (Seeds)!

Food of the Month: Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia (Seeds)!

This month, we are featuring a very special, versatile food: chia seeds!

While Red Rabbit is still the same nut-and-seed-free facility we have always been (so we won't be featuring this on our menu), we can't help but spread the news about this wonderful little food that you can enjoy in your own homes.  

Native to Mexico and Guatemala, chia is an edible seed from a flowering plant in the mint family. It was used as a staple crop for Aztec and Mayan cultures, believed by some to be as heavily cultivated as maize (corn)! Today, chia is grown throughout southern Mexico and Central America, and has become increasingly popular in the health food industry in North America.

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Food for Thought: Healthy Choices

Food for Thought: Healthy Choices

One of my favorite things to do as a little girl was going out to lunch with my dad and three sisters every Saturday. Because we were a large family operating on a country lawyer’s budget (Mom was our “domestic engineer”), the restaurant was usually not a fancy one (there weren’t - aren’t - any Zagat-rated places in my small Illinois hometown).  In fact, most of the time our destination was McDonald’s.

Fast forward 20-something years: rates of obesity have skyrocketed, unemployment has risen and thus the ability for many folks to feed home-made meals to their families has been hampered by wages not keeping up with inflation.  This has led to a growing dependence upon fast-food restaurants to feed families on shoestring budgets, and while they are able to meet that consumer need, the highly processed, high-sodium and high-sugar-laden meals have long been suspected of exacerbating the increased rates of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes not just in adults, but in our children.

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Food Dating - Or, Is it Still Good?

Food Dating - Or, Is it Still Good?

Eating a bowl of one’s favorite cereal should be an enjoyable occasion, be it the first thing we have in the morning for breakfast or as a tasty, healthier alternative snack to butter-drenched popcorn while watching a movie. For those of us who have settled in and taken the first bite, only to be greeted with a more sour than sweet experience, that little printed date we find on many of the foods in our kitchens has become very important indeed!

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Curious Food of the Month: Lychees

Curious Food of the Month: Lychees

These curious fruits are lychees. Native to southern China, Taiwan, Bangladesh, and Southeast Asia, these tropical fruits grow on evergreen trees and have rough reddish pink skins. Fresh lychees are fragrant and sweet, and they have been cultivated for over 4,000 years. The first records of lychees appear from China in 2000 BC; around 1600 AD, the first lychees were traded to Europe and the Americas. China produces the most lychees, followed by India, and they are also grown in Hawaii and Australia.

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The Side: An Unsung Hero of Thanksgiving!

The Side: An Unsung Hero of Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is not only a classic time of year to spend time with our families, but it is also an ideal opportunity to learn about the food we eat. While turkey tends to be the centerpiece of the feast, side dishes are the perfect way to bring a palate of colors and flavors to the table to complement whichever protein you feature. Luckily, the fall harvest is a bountiful one, so you have some terrific, tasty options for vegetables to bring life to the dinner table!

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Allergy? or Intolerance...

Allergy? or Intolerance...

The mealtime landscape can be a perilous one when sidestepping the landmines of food allergies and intolerances.  But what is the difference between the two?  Should we be concerned about one over the other?

Because the symptoms of these allergies and intolerances are not all mutually exclusive, understanding what kind of reaction a child is having can be difficult.  Both can result in nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain, along with their own unique symptoms.  How can we tell the difference?  

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How to Cook with Sweet Potatoes

How to Cook with Sweet Potatoes

Despite what some commercial diet plans say, or what people have been led to believe—not all carbohydrates are "bad."  Just like not all calories are created equally, carbohydrates are not either.  They provide energy for activity and they aid in the functioning of our muscles and internal organs, so we cannot live without them.  When looking for high-quality (i.e., highly beneficial and healthful) carbohydrates, choose a nutritional super star, like sweet potatoes!

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Curious Vegetable of the Week: Romanesco

Curious Vegetable of the Week: Romanesco

This beautiful vegetable is romanesco.  Admired by architects, mathematicians, and foodies alike, this complex veggie is most closely related to cauliflower. Originally from Italy, many botanists believe this veggie first appeared during the days of Julius Caesar as the result of selective breeding by Italian farmers. Romanesco became prominent in the international market around the 1990's, and has since been enjoyed by those looking for a fun, healthy alternative to typical veggies.
 

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Trick Out Your Treats!

Trick Out Your Treats!

Halloween is nearly upon us and the shelves are stocked with tricks and treats everywhere we turn.

No need to shriek in fear of sugary treats or screech in terror at long lists of ingredients! There are plenty of ways to enjoy treats in healthy ways and create festive goodies at home. However, with the plethora of candy many trick-or-treaters receive, it can be difficult to monitor how much and what your child may be eating.

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Creating Healthy Kids: Being the Biggest Influence

Creating Healthy Kids: Being the Biggest Influence

Reality television is big business these days.  Shows about weight loss are particularly popular, with “The Biggest Loser” leading the pack. Every week, millions of people tune in to watch contestants who are severely, dangerously overweight struggle to overcome not only size-related physical limitations, but also deconstruct the emotional and mental obstacles that contributed to their weight gains in the first place.

As an overweight child who grew into an obese teenager, I can personally testify to the role parents can play or not play in the prevention of obesity in adulthood: sweets were always readily available in my household, along with some healthier options, but as long as I had those sugary foods at the ready, it was my snack of choice.  My Midwestern diet was full of meat, dairy, canned vegetables full of sodium and lots of bread and butter – all of which seemed to fit the conventional wisdom of the time and culture.

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